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Several S2 prospects could make MLS leap next year

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These six were all signed to USL contracts in 2016.

Sounders Training: Photos Mike Russell Foto

One of the promises of Sounders 2 was bringing players into the first team. A few players have earned their way from USL to MLS. They’ve done so as draftees (Tony Alfaro), Homegrown Players (Aaron Kovar) and international discoveries (Oalex Anderson). This looks only at the players on USL contracts with S2.

Several players on loan down to S2 from the MLS side will get their shot in 2017 and beyond - Darwin Jones, Victor Mansaray, Tony Alfaro, Tyler Miller, and Oniel Fisher were all regulars for S2 while under MLS contract. There are also a bunch of Academy talents that played up and will get professional looks in a couple years - Nick Hinds, Tobi Jnohope, and Handwalla Bwana for example.

S2 has an interesting middle ground of draftees, international discoveries, and local talents who needed a year or two of polish down in the USL, players who may currently be ready for their 1st team opportunity. These players on “direct to USL” contracts are generally a bit older than their S2 contemporaries, or they are on their 1st pro contract in the Americas.

Jordy Delem, Nouhou Tolo, and Zach Mathers all earned mention from President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey during his late season fan Q&A.

MLS Dabblers

Jordan Schweitzer

Previously signed as a Homegrown Player, Schweitzer had injury troubles in the early season. When 1st team training camp broke he was no longer on that MLS deal, but did earn a USL contract. Schweitzer eventually settled in as S2’s preferred CDM, but is more of an Friberg-esque #8 spraying the ball from deep, using his mind to understand space to make up for a lack of speed and sometimes bursting forward. The 22-year-old came to S2 via the University of Denver and the Seattle Sounders Academy. He is the first HGP to come from the 425.

2016 stats
Minutes: 1685 | Starts: 18 | Subs: 4 | Goals: 4 | Assists: 2

Zach Mathers

When the 1st team needed help in their friendly and US Open Cup action they called first-year pro Mathers into the squad on short term contracts. Down in USL action he was most often the #10, but plays more like a possession based number eight (think early Evans with Sounders). Mathers enjoys bursting into the box and dragging defenders to him. He is a hard tackler and will pressure up-field. Zach was the 35th pick in the 2016 draft after playing for Duke University and Solar Chelsea Academy in Texas.

2016 stats
Minutes: 1693 | Starts: 20 | Subs: 4 | Goals: 4 | Assists: 4

Cameroon Youth Connection

Mark O’Ojong

The hardest tackler in the midfield buzzsaw that powered S2’s late season surge, O’ojong was most often the #8 for S2, but probably has a future in MLS as a DM in a two DM system. He can get forward, passes well and has good speed, but it is his defense and brilliant adjustment to the early yellow cards that are his showcase. Just 19 years old, Mark was on the roster with the Sounders U18s when they went to the playoffs. He previously played at Rainbow FC in Cameroon.

2016 stats
Minutes: 1767 | Starts: 20 | Subs: 8 | Goals: 2 | Assists: 1

Nouhou Tolo

The other teen out of Cameroon, Tolo took over the left back role when he signed. He gets forward well, doesn’t look to cross often preferring short passes, and is strong enough defensively he even slipped into central midfield a couple times. Tolo does not have the speed that defined a Yedlin or Joevin Jones, but provides a similar two-line run from deep. Like O’ojong, Tolo was at Rainbow FC.

2016 stats
Minutes: 2110 | Starts: 24 | Subs: 0 | Goals: 0 | Assists: 0

Two more dudes without a category name

Jordy Delem

If Delem slipped under your radar that’s understandable. He was the third CB on the squad and sometimes played other roles as well. But due to the injuries of others, he kept playing and succeeded. Jordy is a ball-possession CB who has a handful of starts and a goal in helping Martinique qualify for the 2017 Caribbean Cup and Gold Cup. Delem previously played for AC Arles-Avignon in France before the club folded. He is 23.

2016 stats
Minutes: 1646 | Starts: 18 | Subs: 1 | Goals: 0 | Assists: 1

Irvin Parra

He was the final signing of the USL season for S2. After playing for Kaiserslautern II, Zweibrücken, and Homburg over in Germany, the Pateadores USSDA product returned to the US. Parra played mostly as a winger who used technique rather than physique to find and create space. He only scored a single goal for the club, but looked more comfortable as he grew into playing with his teammates. At 23, the American with 4,240 pro league minutes should be coming into his own with a full training camp as a Sounder, if he is retained.

2016 stats
Minutes: 453 | Starts: 6 | Subs: 0 | Goals: 1 | Assists: 2